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Refuge Spring 2018 Newsletter

May 1, 2018

Newsletter Header 2018 SpringRefreshRefresh

by Joel Longshore

Have you ever had a web page open and it just stopped working? Or, perhaps it would not actually load the page. There are many reasons why, but if you are like me, the first thing I try to do is “refresh” the page.

It seems in the adoptive/foster world, each day may need a refresh of sorts. Actually, if I am being real, there are times with the challenges we deal with that a refresh is necessary every minute. Can I get an “Amen!”?

Support and Resources for Adoptive and Foster Families
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We offer education, coaching, and connecting families with the right resources

I suppose this is where we are with Refuge Ministries.  We as leaders of this organization are also adoptive and foster parents.  Yet, this is currently not our full time work.  We have many circumstances and difficulties that can make anything else we do in life slow down or come to a screeching halt.  Even not “load” as we would like.  Thus, for Refuge, it would seem pressing the refresh button is a must.  So, here we go…*REFRESH*!

But, what does this mean, exactly?  Well, it means that even while the leaders of Refuge have gone through a phase of uncertainty, God has not forgotten us, or our mission.  It is rather encouraging and relieving, really.  Because to me, it shows that God has been in this all along and He has not only ordained its conception, but has also been involved in every part and wants to see it move forward today. 

While praying, considering, pondering, discussing, hoping and praying for what would become of such a needed organization, God was at work in a family that we had not even met.  I introduce you to the LaRocque family.  David and Krista, along with many of their children, hail from North Carolina, but recently moved to western Kansas with a vision and desire that echoed that of this ministry: to see adoptive and foster families get the support and resources they need to successfully navigate the pitfalls and trials of raising children from traumatic backgrounds.  In this letter, I will not share a lot about the family, as they will be doing that.  Plus, you will be getting to know them more and more as we “refresh” together and begin the next steps for Refuge. 

We were introduced to this family recently through mutual connections within the adoption world.  As time went on, they learned more about Refuge and what our goals were.  Realizing that we shared a common vision, we began meeting together; they traveling to Colorado Springs, us going to Bazine, Kansas.  Not only was a partnership formed, but a great bond between our families began. 

So, what about the Longshores and the Heims?  How will we continue to be a part?  In short, we will continue to be very active with the ministry.  Offering education, coaching, connecting families to the right resources, etc.  But right now, our main focus will be partnering with the LaRocques and taking the next steps with them.  We will begin to spell out those steps in this newsletter, but also, in future newsletters.  Awesome things are coming and we are excited to share them with you.

On behalf of the Refuge team, staff, and board members, I want to sincerely and humbly apologize for the lack of communication over the last year and not being more proactive.  I hope you will believe me when I say, God was still using us to make a difference and be an encouragement in the lives of families around the country.   However, we too have had difficult challenges with our adoption stories and needed to be less “full throttle”, if you will.

You can expect to hear more from us from this point on.  More ways we are encouraging others, training churches and people how to properly support adoptive families, offering respite to families in need, to name a few things.  We are excited to see what next steps God has for us.  And we are excited to reveal them to you as we move forward.  We have been grateful for your support: through giving, prayer, actions, or otherwise.  While we will reveal and ask you to be a part of Refuge in various ways moving forward, we also ask that you now pray about continuing to be a part of this much needed resource. 

In the meantime, if you would like to speak with me with any questions, or to learn more, feel free to email me at joel@refugeforadoption.org.  You may also call me at 303.919.7080.

LaRocque Family

Joining Refuge

by David LaRocque

We are David and Krista LaRocque, and we are thrilled to be joining Refuge!

Who We Are

We have been searching for several years for a way to support and encourage other families, and have found in Refuge a like-minded group of people to do so.
Starting in 1997, we have over the years adopted 11 children, now ages 27 down to 7 years old. We thought we were done with adoption, and "moving on" to a support phase, but God continues to bring children into our lives for us to care for! God has given us a wide variety of experiences, many different personalities in our children, a broad set of traumas to deal with, and He has remained consistently faithful through them all. We, on the other hand, have to struggle and learn throughout it all.

Our vision is to share our lessons learned with other adoptive families, as much to remind us of God's grace as to encourage others with Him.

Where we've been

Our adoption story has been full of surprises, sorrow, and delight. We have a particularly soft place in our hearts to keep siblings together, which we've been able to do several times.

We've adopted from Guatemala, USA, Russia, and Ukraine. Our children came with institutionalized behaviors, attachment disorders from neglect and abandonment, and lifelong effects of parental substance abuse. We do our best to instill family values and a Bible-centric worldview into our children. We've found varying degrees of support in family, friends, churches, and other groups, particularly as our family has grown larger than many consider comfortable.

What we are doing next

Two years ago, God moved us from North Carolina and the only US home our children knew to Kansas, and new opportunities. We moved into a decommissioned school in western Kansas, in a tiny community of about 250 in rural contrast to the metro area of 2.5 million we left behind. We had searched nationwide for a location where we'd have space for our large family, and this 23,000 square foot school in great shape with a full indoor basketball court, stage, and large garage fits the bill.

We are working hard to create a peaceful location for respite care, family care breaks, adoption conferences, and whatever else we might be able to offer. Krista has been certified as an instructor for foster care / adoption classes, and is enjoying working with other families who want to open their homes to children.

Adoption

An Adoption Story

by Kristen Longshore

Our adoption came about in the most cliché and yet the most unusual of ways. Our storybook plan of adopting a “blank slate” baby from China was blown to bits the day I stumbled across a photo of a 13 year old Eastern European boy on the internet. In a moment, a Holy Spirit gut punch, I contemporaneously knew both that he was my son and that life as I knew it was over. From that moment until the time he was in our home, I lived, breathed, and slept adoption. I KNEW that God had revealed to us that THIS was our child. In October of 2012, after two months in Ukraine, we arrived home with not one, but two adolescent boys, our new sons.

We were overjoyed, thrilled to be home, and utterly terrified. Yet scared as we were, we were confident that it was going to be FINE, incredible even, because we had been obedient. Obviously, that was our insurance that everything was going to be beautiful. We expected to have a few bumps, but I had read ALL of the books by ALL of the experts, and research is kind of my jam. I had been a teacher in a low income school and my husband was a youth pastor. We knew kids from trauma. We would have issues, but we would consult the experts, and soon we would be a picture perfect happy family. That’s how it works, right?

If you are reading this, my guess is that you already know better because you are either a fellow adoptive parent or you know me “in real life.” Maybe you even tried to have a coherent conversation with me during those first six months (bless you), or saw me stumbling around Target at 9:30 at night with my clothes inside out (I would really love to tell you that I’m joking about the Target thing. I would love even more to tell you that it was an isolated incident...). The truth is that I spent most of the first year my children were home like a deer in the headlights: paralyzed and frozen in time.

I cannot imagine loving any humans more than I love my children. Joel and I put our entire beings into creating connections and building relationship with them. Why was this so hard? Were we somehow NOT meeting their needs? Did we somehow not LOVE them enough? Did I misunderstand something fundamental in my pile of expertly written books? Because there HAD to be something I was missing. I AM A PROBLEM SOLVER AND IF YOU LOOK HARD ENOUGH THERE IS ALWAYS A SOLUTION AND I SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIX ALL OF THE THINGS. Except that I couldn’t. And it messed with me. A lot.

About 9 months into our new family, I found myself in a place of grief unlike anything I had ever previously experienced, deeply grieving my children’s losses and pain, and desperately wanting to remove their trauma. I grieved their bio families. I grieved that I could not make up for lost time. I grieved for the other children in the orphanage. I grieved that my expectations for how my family would look and operate and act were not met, and that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I think that more than anything, I grieved my loss of (perceived) control.

And then, one day, sitting in the quiet of my car in a Starbucks parking lot crying, I was hit with another Holy Spirit gut punch, this one, in many ways, harder than the first.

My desperate desire to fix/help/heal my children was eating me up. Not only was I riddled with stress and anxiety (taking a toll in every area of my life), but my kids did not have a healthy mom and my husband did not have a healthy wife. I was captive to what I thought our family should be and a slave to the pain that had previously befallen my children. I was miserable. I was severely depressed. I was sick. I was in bondage and it was eating me alive. Something had to change and in that moment I realized the ONLY thing I could control was me.

It was not an immediate transformation. The epiphany was instant but the change took time. It took time to heal, to change my mindset, and to learn new skills. I employed professional therapy but the best counsel came from my tribe of trauma moms who have been and are there in the trenches with me and ALWAYS speak truth. These are a few of the things I learned and steps I took on the way to freedom.

  • I stopped putting pressure on myself (and Joel) to make up for what my children missed before they came to us. It can not be done. Only God can redeem that time and those experiences.
  • I learned to embrace our family in its current state and let go of my “dream” of being the picture-perfect, idyllic Christian adoptive family. That dream had to die.
  • I stopped comparing our family to other adoptive families that seemed to be “doing better” than we were. Our story is our story. The end.
  • I now parent my children as they are in the now and not as I hope they will be one day.
  • I no longer take responsibility for my children’s decisions.
  • I have stopped trying to “save” my kids.
  • I have learned to make the next right parenting decision and then LET GO of the outcome.
  • I am still a work in progress.

There are days I still feel that tightness in my chest and realize I am grasping with white knuckles and clenched fists - but I now know the truth. There is one savior, one healer, and one perfect father. His name is not Kristen.

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